Race to the MVP: Week 9

SECAUCUS, N.J., August 7, 2009 -- The recent play of San Antonio’s Becky Hammon has led me to the following question … how big of a factor should team success be when selecting an MVP?

Hammon, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, has been on a tear since the All-Star break, scoring 20-plus points in five straight games, including a career-high 38 points last week against Sacramento.

Hammon is averaging 25.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals, while shooting .464 from the field and .368 from three-point range. She is now the league’s leading scorer at 21.2 points per game and ranks fifth in assists and steals at 4.6 and 2.2 per game, respectively.

While Hammon has been amazing over the past two weeks, her Silver Stars are just 2-3 during the stretch and currently sit at 9-11 on the season, just one game ahead of Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West.

Can the league MVP be on a sub-.500 team that is barely clinging to a playoff berth? I have to say no because as great as her play may be, how valuable is it if it is not translating into wins?

Don’t get me wrong, Hammon is definitely in the hunt and if her team can put some wins together to climb above .500 she will definitely be in a position to move up the ranks. As for now, I can’t put her above the top players on teams at the top of the standings.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through August 6.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (16-4)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.2 6.4 3.3 2.7 0.6 .364 .371 .867 + 17.05
  • Last ranking: 1
    The debate between Catchings and Douglas as to who is more valuable to the Fever continues. In Sunday's win over Washington, Douglas was the team's leading scorer with a game-high 24 points, but it was Catchings with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists that had the more valuable game in my opinion.

  • 2. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury (16-6)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.4 4.6 5.3 0.9 0.3 .440 .319 .888 + 18.45
  • Last ranking: 2
    Pondexter has been in a bit of a slump to open the second half, averaging 14.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists on .395 shooting from the field and .154 from three-point range. The Mercury still went 4-1 on their five-game road trip and return home for a pair of games this week. Playing at home could be the remedy for Pondexter, who averages 20.8 points on .468 at home compared to 17.9 points on .412 shooting on the road.

  • 3. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury (16-6)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.6 6.2 3.2 1.2 1.5 .476 .431 .879 + 22.35
  • Last ranking: 4
    While Pondexter has faltered a bit in the second half, Taurasi has come on strong, averaging 20.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists on the Mercury's road trip, including a 34-ponts, 13-rebound performance against New York. While Taurasi's scoring is down 3.5 points from a year ago, she is on pace to post career highs in rebounds and all shooting categories.

  • 4. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever (16-4)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.4 3.6 2.7 1.6 0.3 .426 .342 .859 + 14.50
  • Last ranking: 5
    The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week continues to fill the nets for the Fever. As the team's leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, Douglas is on pace for a career-high in scoring in her ninth year in the WNBA. Her play has helped Indiana match its franchise-best 16-4 performance through 20 games and established the Fever as the class of the East.

  • 5. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm (12-9)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.2 6.9 0.7 1.3 1.8 .479 .459 .792 + 20.11
  • Last ranking: 3
    Since the All-Star break, Jackson is averaging 20.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, but the Storm has gone 1-3 in those games, which comes back to our central argument about the importance of team success for an MVP candidate. Despite the Storm's recent struggles, they remain 1.5 games ahead of Minnesota for the second in the Western Conference.

  • 6. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars (9-11)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    21.2 3.7 4.6 2.2 0.4 .442 .339 .935 + 19.67
  • Last ranking: 6
    Hammon remains the league's top scorer and a top-five performer in assists and steals, but with her performances unable to lift the Silver Stars to victories, Hammon remains outside of the top five in our rankings.

  • 7. Alana Beard, Washington Mystics (10-9)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.9 4.1 2.3 2.5 0.5 .461 .333 .727 + 15.05
  • Last ranking: 7
    In Washington's last three games Beard has averaged 23.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, but the Mystics have gone just 1-2 during the stretch. At 10-9, the Mystics are in a logjam in the Eastern Conference and if they are to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2006, they will need Beard's performances to result in wins.

  • 8. Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta Dream (11-10)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    13.3 7.2 1.3 2.1 0.7 .521 .000 .764 + 16.86
  • Last ranking: 13
    Next to the Fever, the Dream are the hottest team in the league at the moment as they ride a franchise-long four-game win streak to climb over .500 for the first time since June 19. Lyttle is second on the team in scoring and rebounding (behind Holdsclaw and de Souza, respectively) and leads the team in steals. The first time All-Star has posted double-doubles in two of the Dream's last three games.

  • 9. Asjha Jones, Connecticut Sun (10-9)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.4 6.2 2.6 0.9 0.5 .458 .267 .761 + 16.12
  • Last ranking: 8
    The slumping Sun snapped a three-game losing streak with a win on the road against Detroit on Sunday with Jones posting 20 points, five rebounds, two assists a steal and a block. In a season full of highs and lows and a number of roster moves, Jones has been the consistent force for the Mike Thibault's squad.

  • 10. Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock (7-10)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.8 4.6 3.9 1.2 0.4 .392 .320 .795 + 12.69
  • Last ranking: NR
    She has been plagued by injuries all season, but it appears that the Shock's layoff surrounding the All-Star Game (off July 23-30) was just what Nolan needed to get healthy and back to her old self. In Detroit's three games out of the break, Nolan is averaging 22.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists as the Shock have gone 2-1 to climb to within two games of a playoff berth.

  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages)
    11. Sylvia Fowles (Chicago): 11.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.5 BPG, +14.62 EFF
    12. Nicky Anosike (Minnesota): 13.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 2.9 SPG, +18.60 EFF
    13. Sophia Young (San Antonio): 17.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, +15.55 EFF
    14. Sue Bird (Seattle): 11.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, +11.48 EFF
    15. Lindsey Harding (Washington): 13.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0APG, 1.4 SPG, +14.84 EFF
  • Dropped out: Shameka Christon
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